The Hidden Children
Chapter 3. View Halloo!
It rained, rained, rained, and the darkness and wind combined with the uproar of the
storm to make venturing abroad well nigh impossible. Yet, an orderly, riding at hazard,
managed to come up with a hundred of the Continental foot, convoying the train, and,
turning them in their slopping tracks, start back with them through a road running shin-
high in mud and water.
Messengers, also, were dispatched to call out the district militia, and they plodded all
night with their lanterns, over field and path and lonely country road.
As for Colonel Sheldon, booted, sashed, and helmeted, he sat apathetic and inert in the
hall, obstinately refusing to mount his men.
"For," says he, "it will only soak their powder and their skins, and nobody but a fool
would ride hither in such a storm. And Tarleton is no fool, nor am I, either; and that's
flat!" It was not as flat as his own forehead.
"Do you mean that I am a fool to march my men back here from Lewisboro?" demanded
Colonel Thomas sharply, making to rise from his seat by the empty fireplace.
Duels had sprung from less provocation than had been given by Colonel Sheldon. Mr.
Hunt very mildly interposed; and a painful scene was narrowly averted because of
Colonel Thomas's cold contempt for Sheldon, which I think Captain Fancher shared.
Major Lockwood, coming in at the moment, flung aside his dripping riding cloak.
"Sir," said he to Sheldon, "the rumour that the Legion is abroad has reached your men,
and they are saddling in my barns."
"What damned nonsense!" exclaimed Sheldon, in a pet; and, rising, strode heavily to the
door, but met there his Major, one Benjamin Tallmadge, coming in, all over mud.
This fiery young dragoon's plume, helmet, and cloak were dripping, and he impatiently
dashed the water from feathers and folds.
"Sir!" began Colonel Sheldon loudly, "I have as yet given no order to saddle!"
And, "By God, sir," says Tallmadge, "the orders must have come from somebody, for
they're doing it!"
"Sir-- sir!" stammered Sheldon, "What d'ye mean by that?"